The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a comprehensive teaching and research-intensive university with an exceptionally strong Academic Health Center and graduate programs in a wide variety of disciplines. Medically related schools are the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing, and Optometry. The University offers 35 doctoral programs and 45 master’s programs. Student enrollment exceeds 17,000 and currently more than 16,000 people work at UAB. The university is proud of its minority (31.6%) and female (60.2%) enrollment. The academic medical center has grown rapidly from its beginnings only four decades ago, due in large measure to a strong commitment to biomedical research. The campus occupies more than 82 city blocks and has an operating annual budget of $2.3 billion, making it the largest employer in the State. UAB’s aggregate economic impact for Birmingham and the State of Alabama exceeds $3 billion. The flagship UAB Medical Center and the associated Children’s Hospital of Alabama and Birmingham Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, are the primary institutions that have led the extraordinary transformation of Birmingham into one of the leading biomedical centers in the U.S. UAB faculty members have successfully competed for $460 million in extramural grants and contracts. UAB now ranks in the top tier in extramural support for biomedical research from the National Institutes of Health. The UAB Academic Health Center is home to a diverse range of interdisciplinary centers that focus on extraordinary research strengths and a culture that encourages and nurtures interdisciplinary interactions and scholarship among scientists in over 70 Research Centers. UAB has been successful in breaking down departmental barriers to collaborative research, a feature that attracts outstanding faculty and students to Birmingham, and makes UAB-initiated biomedical research projects highly competitive for federal funding. UAB is a national leader for multi-institutional investigations and clinical trials. Many CPCTP faculty mentors are scientists and senior scientists drawn from these centers.
The UAB School of Health Professions (SHP) has 21 academic programs at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels within six departments: Critical Care, Diagnostic Care, Health Services Administration, Nutrition Sciences, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy. It has 89 full-time faculty and nearly 1350 students. The School educates health professionals to enhance and improve health care services and the systems through which these services are administered. In keeping with the mission of UAB, the resources of the programs of SHP are dedicated to excellence in teaching, research, scholarly activity, and service to the institution, community, and the professions. For most of its history, the School has ranked number one or two in total research support provided by the NIH to Allied Health Schools. It is one of the largest health professions schools in terms of students and number of degree programs offered. A recent U.S. News and World Report ranking placed SHP's nutrition sciences program 2nd nationally, its health services administration program 8th, its physical therapy program 19th, and its occupational therapy program 40th. The School enjoys a national and international reputation in research, diagnostic and rehabilitative care, and in clinical and didactic education.
The Department of Nutrition Sciences (DNS) is affiliated with three health-related schools (Medicine, Health Professions, and Dentistry). The Department’s extramural, peer-reviewed funded research programs extend from highly sophisticated basic research on nutrient metabolism and molecular biology to human studies of the role of dietary factors in the prevention and treatment of leading public health problems, including cancer, obesity, and heart disease. Extramural funding by the Department’s 21 faculty is nearly $8 million per year. The DNS coordinates two UAB-designated interdisciplinary research centers, the NIDDK-funded Nutrition Obesity Research Center and the Diabetes Research and Training Center. The Department of Nutrition Sciences has also been designated by Bristol-Myers Squibb as an International Center of Research Excellence in Nutrition, and it ranks among the top three departments of nutrition in NIH funding. DNS has been the academic/administrative home for the CPCTP for almost 25 years of NCI support. Approximately one third of the total CPCTP trainees, including most of our post-doctoral trainees, have been from DNS.
UAB is among a select group of universities recognized for both high research activity and significant community engagement. UAB ranks 27th among academic institutions in federal research funding and 20th in funding from NIH. Total research funding exceeds $460 million annually and over $250 million can be attributed to the School of Medicine (UASOM) alone. As one of the leading public medical schools in the Southeast, it has been responsible for educating and training medical students, for providing knowledge in basic and clinical sciences, and for understanding and appreciating the socioeconomic factors involved in providing both primary and specialized medical care. In addition to the medical education program, SOM faculty conduct research in university-wide interdisciplinary research centers. The UAB interdisciplinary culture presents the medical and scientific community with opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from other schools, departments and disciplines who have comparable or complementary research interests. UAB offers an NIH-funded Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) that offers a combined MD/PhD program designed to prepare students for careers that combine laboratory investigation of disease mechanisms with the practice and teaching of clinical medicine in an academic setting. The MSTP enrolls about nine new students each year. The SOM faculty represents a variety of disciplines with diverse educational and research backgrounds. The School has an earned tradition of excellence in research and clinical care and is recognized as a leader in many fields. It currently has 1200 funded research grants and contracts, which represent $273 million in peer-reviewed research. The SOM has ranked as high as 17th in the nation based on research awards received from the National Institutes of Health.
The UAB School of Nursing (SON) is ranked in the top 5% of nursing schools in the nation, with 106 faculty and nearly 1700 students (68% of whom are graduate students), The SON offers innovative bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and postdoctoral level programs. Distinguished among these programs is the State of Alabama’s only PhD in Nursing and the joint Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees. The SON also offers the masters degree with 19 specialty and/or specialty tracks (including advanced nurse executive majors in administration, and informatics), and an Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway program. The SON also offers a traditional BSN program, a BSN to PhD, and an RN to BSN mobility program. The SON is a recognized leader in online education at UAB providing an extensive number of online graduate courses to meet the needs of a mobile and electronically-connected student population. Some courses are completely taught in a distance accessible format, while other courses combine online content with live sessions on campus. The SON is one of only 10 designated Pan American World Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization Collaborating Centres for International Nursing located in the US. The SON has more than a 60-year legacy boasting more than 12,000 alumni in the United States and throughout the globe. Faculty hold over 70 appointments in UABs University-Wide Interdisciplinary Research Centers, which provide opportunities for research collaboration with scientists from health professions, public health, medicine, engineering, education, and dentistry. The Learning Resources Center is home to a leading health simulation center. The SON doctoral students will be a new program recruitment target designed to increase the number of trainees interested in cancer prevention and control research.
The UAB School of Public Health (SPH) includes approximately 85 full-time primary faculty members plus 40 secondary, adjunct and emeritus faculty members, housed in five academic Departments: Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Behavior, and Health Care Organization and Policy. The SPH supports six multi-disciplinary centers that play key roles in the School’s research and disease control missions: the Center for Health Promotion, the Center for Community Health Resource Development, the Deep South Center for Occupational Health and Safety, the John J. Sparkman Center for Global Health, the South Central Center for Public Health Preparedness, and the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy. The SPH has a strong research program, ranking second among UAB Academic Health Center schools in research dollars. The SPH also has a strong teaching program and through its education and training mission serve the public health needs of Alabama and assist UAB in carrying out its mission as an international university. The SPH’s student body of approximately 300 includes students from Alabama (50%), other U.S. states (25%) and other countries (25%). Since 1988, the School of Public Health has provided approximately one half of the CPCTP pre- and postdoctoral trainees who have focused their academic studies and research projects on cancer prevention and control.
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) was one of the first eight comprehensive cancer centers established by NCI. In 2005, the Cancer Center renewed its designation as “comprehensive” and is now in its 40th year of NCI support. Since 1998, UAB has received NCI funding for SPORES in five important NCI and CCC priority areas for interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, translational cancer research: ovarian, prostrate, breast, brain and pancreas. The Cancer Center’s research activities are divided into nine major programs. The Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program (CCPS) encompasses efforts in cancer outreach, epidemiology, and behavioral intervention. The CPCTP is an integral component of the research training mission of the CCPS and CCC. Other programs include Tumor Immunology, Structural Biology, Virology, and Tumor Biology with interdisciplinary, laboratory research-based projects overseen by basic science and clinical investigators pursuing molecular mechanisms relevant to normal and neoplastic cell growth and behavior. The Experimental Therapeutics Program and the Neuro-Oncology Program have major research objectives of immunotherapy, cancer pharmacology, gene therapy and hematological malignancies. The Cancer Chemoprevention Program leads efforts in drug discovery, animal models and early phase I/II clinical trials. The Center supports 14 shared facilities which provide investigators with convenient access to cost-effective services, equipment, and consulting expertise that enhance their research productivity. The Shared Facilities are Biostatistics & Bioinformatics, Clinical Protocol & Data Management, Comprehensive Genomics, DNA Sequencing, High Resolution Imaging, Human Imaging, Mass Spectrometry/Proteomics, Microarray, Molecular NMR, Recruitment and Retention, Small Animal Imaging, Tissue Procurement, Transgenic Animal, and X-ray Crystallography. The Recruitment and Retention Shared Facility, funded by NCI, is a central resource for clinical trials recruitment throughout the Medical Center. One of the primary missions of the Cancer Center is to provide community outreach services to minority and underserved populations.
The Cancer Center has traditionally been a pacesetter for UAB interdisciplinary research efforts in an institution with an international reputation for scholarly contributions based on collaborative, interdisciplinary research. The CCC has facilitated the development of numerous initiatives in crystallography, virology, chemoprevention, cancer prevention and control, targeted immunotherapy, gene therapy, cancer vaccines, and neuro-oncology. Various mechanisms enhance such efforts, including the Center’s programmatic structure, space allocation, shared facilities, conferences, seminars, and retreats, faculty recruitment, membership review process, publications and announcements, electronic mail, and the annual CCC faculty meeting. UAB and the CCC provide a uniquely rich, robust and diverse multidisciplinary research environment that provides outstanding scientists and mentors for CPCTP trainees.
The goal of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program (CCPS) is to reduce cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality through prevention and control measures. Alabama’s high-incidence cancers and medically underserved populations are high priority areas for research and service activities of the CCPS. The Program provides cancer prevention and control education and research training for health professionals, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. The CPCTP is an important research training component within the CCPS and in the CCC. CCPS scientists are actively involved in laboratory investigations in chemoprevention and nutrition, comparative effectiveness studies, observational studies, surveillance, clinical trials of cancer survivorship, and community education and research. Approximately 49 investigators have appointments to this program, and their grant support totals approximately $23 million in annual direct funding.
The overall goal of the Cancer Chemoprevention Program (CCP) is to determine, through basic, clinical and translational research, the role of chemopreventive agents in the prevention of cancer. Interdisciplinary research is focused on the following five areas: development and characterization of novel chemoprevention agents; basic laboratory studies of the ability of naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals to prevent or delay the process of carcinogenesis; preclinical studies of chemoprevention agents using animal models; identification of molecular biomarkers (e.g. surrogate endpoint biomarkers) which can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of novel chemoprevention agents; and early phase chemoprevention trials evaluating novel chemoprevention agents. The Program has significant research projects in breast, skin, and head and neck cancers involving extensive collaborations with other CCC investigators.
The CCC, CCPS and many of our CPCTP trainees and mentors are committed to the elimination of unnecessary and unacceptable disparities in cancer death rates between blacks and whites in Alabama and the Deep South. The Deep South Network (DSN) for Cancer Control was created to meet the needs of the underserved African-American community in this region. The purpose of the DSN is to build community, institutional capacity, and the infrastructure necessary to eliminate cancer health disparities. DSN goals are to improve access to and utilization of proven beneficial cancer interventions and to conduct community-based participatory education, training and research. The DSN builds upon community infrastructures, state partnerships and coalitions to: (1) provide cancer awareness activities; (2) support minority enrollment in clinical trials; and (3) promote the development of minority junior biomedical researchers. The Community Health Advisor (CHA) model is utilized to train women who are natural helpers to provide cancer awareness messages and resources to their communities. The CHAs are trained as research partners (CHA-RPs) to enhance African-American participation in clinical trials. The DSN targets breast, cervical and colon cancers in two underserved rural areas - the Black Belt of Alabama and the Delta region of Mississippi - and two urban underserved areas - Jefferson County, Alabama, and Hattiesburg/Laurel Metro, Mississippi. The DSN is one of 25 Cancer Network Programs funded by the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.
The Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC) is a comprehensive educational, research and community outreach center focused on eliminating a broad range of health disparities experienced by racial/ethnic minorities. The Center fosters collaborative participatory research and educational partnerships among UAB schools and centers, in association with historically black colleges and universities, state agencies and grassroots organizations. The MHRC collaborates with academic programs to stimulate new interdisciplinary research; and assists, trains and supports investigators interested in minority health research.
The Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)/ Tuskegee University (TU)/ UAB CCC partnership facilitates research and training collaborations between the three institutions. The partnership strengthens all three universities in areas of weakness while continuing to enhance and upgrade the cancer research capabilities of each. This partnership is composed of two NCI-funded grants: a U56 with MSM and a P20 planning grant with TU. The partnership has led to development of programs in the following areas: (1) Research; (2) Research Training and Career Development; (3) Education and (4) Community Outreach. The development of these programs enhances the promise of success for investigators at all three institutions to become independent and culturally sensitive researchers. Furthermore, this partnership: (1) provides MSM and TU researchers with training opportunities in cancer research being conducted at UAB; (2) increases the number of MSM and TU students in cancer research; (3) increases the number of minority researchers with Bioethics training and (4) exposes researchers at all three institutions to training in the areas of Bioethics in research, cultural sensitivity and community outreach research. The partnership is making significant contributions to the elimination of the gap in cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality between whites and African Americans in urban and rural African American communities. These multidisciplinary collaborations represent another valuable resource for CPCTP trainees and mentors.
The UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) is a designated University-Wide Interdisciplinary Research Center. The CCTS was developed in response to NIH applications for Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs). UAB was officially funded for the CCTS in 2008. CCTS enhances human health by driving scientific discovery and dialogue across the bench, bedside and community continuum. The vision of the Center is to speed the translational of research into improved human health. The Center is comprised of eight Components and a Research Commons: Biomedical Informatics; Pilots; Drug Discovery; Research Education and Training; Clinical Research Unit (CRU); Cores; Regulatory and Research Ethics; and One Great Community. The CCTS has become a dynamic, physical and virtual hub through which investigators, trainees, and community members interact and collaborate. The Research Commons provides services that are especially useful to CPCTP trainees and mentors. Research Commons staff foster the career development of postdoctoral researchers, clinical fellows, and junior faculty. They serve as Investigator Advocates for scientists and trainees using CCTS resources, and provide input on crafting effective career development plans. The Center supports translational research with methodological expertise in epidemiology, biostatistics, outcomes and effectiveness research, and data management. CPCTP trainees are encouraged to take full advantage of all CCTS resources and services.
The Heflin Center for Genomic Science (HCGS) was founded in 2002 as a University-wide Interdisciplinary Research Center (UWIRC) with the goal of enhancing resources to enable UAB investigators to incorporate genetic and genomic approaches in their research. The HCGS consists of three components: Genomics Core Laboratories, Analytical and Epidemiologic Genomics Program, and Medical Genomics Program. The genomics cores include DNA sequencing, genotyping, and microarray analysis. The Analytical and Epidemiologic Genomics Program provides statistical, computational, bioinformatic, and epidemiological support to UAB investigators. The Medical Genomics Program provides consultative services to investigators and assistance with patient recruitment, preparation of IRB protocols and informed consent documents, gene mapping and identification, and development of genetic testing for genotype-phenotype studies. The HCGS includes an Educational and Enrichment Program that includes a seminar series, pilot research funding program, and short courses for investigators.
The Center for Nursing Research (CNR), located in the School of Nursing, is under the leadership of Dr. Meneses. The CNR has more than 20,000 square feet containing designated research offices, meeting rooms, 3 exam/interview rooms, and a patient waiting area. Access to the CNR research suite is through restricted card key access only. Among the CNR is a Director of Grants & Contracts Administration and Financial Officer who provide SON faculty with direct assistance for grants and contracts management, research compliance, data safety and management, and compliance of all key personnel with UAB and NCI/NIH policies. The CNR Program Manager coordinates a plethora of research presentations, statistics rounds, ethics and IRB updates. Additional services provided for scholarly and professional development of faculty and researchers include: editorial assistance with manuscript preparation, poster presentations, and audiovisuals needed for research dissemination.
The Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education (COERE) offers excellent opportunities for trainees who are interested in developing expertise in outcomes and effectiveness research. The mission of the UAB COERE is to build and maintain a successful program of research targeted at improving the quality and outcomes of health care. This is accomplished by 1) using interdisciplinary teams to test innovations that promote evidence-based practice, reduce inequities in care for under-served and minority populations, and improve quality of life and functional outcomes for patients, 2) developing and testing innovative methods with application to important questions in the delivery of health care, 3) training and mentoring students, fellows and faculty in these methods, and 4) and serving as a resource to UAB faculty, health care systems, related organizations, government, and philanthropy to further disseminate outcomes research knowledge and expertise.